Erbil (Iraqinews.com) – A Saudi plane landed Monday at the Erbil International Airport (EIA) to be the first flight to arrive at the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region since Baghdad lifted an air embargo it imposed on Kurdish airports last week.
According to Kurdistan 24, the plane took off from Saudi Arabia and landed at the Erbil airport at 7:00 am (local time). It is expected to carry Kurdish pilgrims to perform Umrah (minor pilgrimage) in Saudi Arabia.
Today’s flight put an end to a few months’ hiatus of international flights to Kurdish airports.
“Today, the first international flight will leave Erbil to Jeddah,” Mohammed Ghafour Khoshnaw, the executive head of the Saudi branch of Flynas airline in Erbil, said.
Khoshnaw stated that from now on, Flynas would have four weekly flights between Erbil and Jeddah.
A Fly Dubai airplane is also scheduled to land at the EIA at 4:00 pm (local time) before returning to Dubai shortly after with 164 passengers onboard.
Last week, the Iraqi government issued a decision to lift a ban it imposed on international flights to and from Kurdish airports.
The international flights to Kurdistan had been suspended after the Kurds voted overwhelmingly to break away from Iraq in a referendum held on Sept. 25, defying the central government in Baghdad as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran who have their own Kurdish minorities.